Thursday, July 9, 2009

Fur starts to fly as Pet Airways takes to the skies

Updated Thu. Jul. 9 2009 1:47 PM ET News Staff

The fur is really starting to fly, now that the first pet-only airline in the U.S. is taking to the skies.

Pet Airways, which will fly from airports in five American cities starting next week -- with plans to expand into Canada next year -- is focused entirely on pet "pawsengers."

In fact, human passengers aren't even allowed on the planes, said CTV's travel expert Loren Christie.

"It's actually an airline only for pets," Christie told CTV's Canada AM.

"It's not just pet friendly, you actually can't fly on this airline unless you're an animal. The only humans allowed on are the pet attendants."

An estimated one million animals fly each year in America, and Pet Airways' goal is to capitalize on that traffic.

Flights begin at US$149, and come with the promise to "transport your pet with lots of love, care, safety, and comfort in the main cabin," according to the company's website.

Planes have no overhead baggage compartments, no seats, and are designed entirely with animals in mind, the site states.

The airline also offers a "lounge" where pets can be checked in up to 72 hours prior to take-off.

Dan Wiesel, president and CEO of Pet Airways, said most pets travelling by air are transported in the cargo hold and "handled as baggage."

"The experience is frightening to the pets, and can cause severe emotional and physical harm, even death. This is not what most pet owners want to subject their pets to, but they have had no other choice, until now," Wiesel said in a release.

When it begins operations on July 14, the airline will fly between Baltimore, New York, Chicago, Denver and Los Angeles, with plans to expand to Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver in 2010.

There is some competition here in Canada, however. While their mandates aren't as pet-centric as Pet Airways, major carriers West Jet and Air Canada both offer pet travel options, Christie said.

Both allow passengers to fly with their pets with some restrictions.

On both airlines, only animals that weigh less than 22 kg, including their carrier, are allowed to stay in the cabin. Those that weigh above the limit are transported in the baggage hold.

And, Air Canada allows no animals to travel in the hold during peak season between June 20 and Sept. 10.

While West Jet allows cats, dogs, birds and rabbits to travel, Air Canada only allows dogs and cats.

Both airlines charge a $50 fee for pets that travel in the cabin, but Air Canada ups the fee to $105 for pets that are transported in the baggage compartment.

1 comment:

Laura said...

America has gone to the dogs! I only pray that one day people will think as highly for the homeless, poor, and neglected as they do for their dogs.